The Times West Virginian


December 20, 2012

Anna Jarvis Museum hosts Christmas tours

FAIRMONT — While you are sitting around this holiday season, make it a priority to spend time with your mom.

This is what Anna Jarvis, who is the founder of Mother’s Day, would have wanted.

“This all was created because of a love for mother, and because of that we can now celebrate this special day,” executive director of the Anna Jarvis Museum Olive Dadisman said. “Anna wasn’t big on cards or flowers or candy. She just thought you should try to spend a really nice day with your mother.” 

Jarvis ’ birthplace is still standing, and in fact, has been open to the public since 1996. Located in Grafton, the museum was once desolate until Dadisman and her husband drove by one day and peered through the windows. A woman by the name of Ocean Pearl Felton offered them the house, and within two years they had it up and running.

Mother’s Day is a special holiday, but Dadisman and her staff are just as excited to celebrate the Christmas holiday season. A special Christmas tour will be open to the public Tuesday through Sunday until Dec. 31. The historical tour costs $5.

Throughout the month of December, the house has remained lit for the holidays, and a number of Christmas trees add a special holiday spirit to your visit. Each room has a tree with a different theme. Last year, the house had a jewelry tree and a tea pot tree, and this year the house has an elf tree and a Santa Claus tree.

“You never know what the trees are going to be decorated with,” Dadisman said. “If you can think of a tree, we’ve probably done it.” 

Local organizations, high school students, college students, and even younger children have put in their time at this museum to add to its Christmas glory. Inside the nursery is a lollipop theme, courtesy of a very creative 3-year old.

“It’s adorable,” Dadisman said.

If you’re also interested in the history of the museum, the historical tour will highlight the history of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis’ life and other interesting facts about the house. Providing tours since 1996, Dadisman has seen visitors from 26 different countries, including a few who have visited more than once from Japan, Australia and Canada.

Built in 1854, the house has been barely altered — 95 percent of it being original. From the outside, the house doesn’t look very large, but one step inside surprises people. It’s much more spacious than people imagine, Dadisman said.

“You’re walking on the same floors, and the same walls are there,” she added. “We’re lucky the staircase is there and the fireplaces were never ripped out. It’s very unique to be able to step back in time.” 

More than 5,000 items have been donated since the museum opened in 1996.

“Everything has been donated in memory or in honor of mothers, mostly,” Dadisman said. “But we have lots of other things that are donated in other memories, like fathers, grandfathers.” 

One of the highlights of the tour that people enjoy the most, according to Dadisman, is the “whistle story.” On the back porch of the house, the slaves and servants cooked and prepared food in what was known as the summer kitchen. Servants and slaves were commanded to whistle as they walked, so that those living in the house knew they weren’t sneaking a few bites into their fruitcake, roast beef, turkey or other extravagant meals.

“People get a really big kick out of that, and it’s something that even the kids remember on their tours,” Dadisman said. “When they write thank-you cards, they always say they like the ‘whistle way.’” 

Each room in the house has a significant amount of history. The dining room is where the tour guides discuss how Jarvis would often help soldiers from both sides during the Civil War time period. In the master bedroom the tour guide will tell the story of Jarvis, who was born in that room. Shortly after coming up with the idea to have a special day to honor mothers, Jarvis’ mother passed away. For nearly 10 years, she fought hard to make it a national holiday and eventually got her wish.

“The male population thought it was a pretty stupid idea,” she said.  “The reason they thought that was because they didn’t think their mothers really wanted the day off and didn’t need a day off. But of course she persevered and got her day.”

Email Nicole Lemal at

Text Only
  • ‘Peter Pan Jr.’ to be presented

    Morgantown Theatre Company will present Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.” this weekend.
    Performances will be at the Metropolitan Theatre on High Street in Morgantown Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and on Sunday at 3 p.m.

    April 24, 2014

  • ‘Swan Lake’ presentation April 27

    The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will leave its home at the Benedum Center to take the stage at West Virginia University’s Creative Arts Center next weekend.
    The ballet will perform its production of “Swan Lake” Sunday, April 27, at 3 p.m.

    April 17, 2014

  • ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with a difference

    Every year, faculty at Fairmont State University’s theater department plan their performances based on students’ experience.
    “The students that we have right now, we have not done a play by Shakespeare since they’ve been in school,” said Dr. Francene Kirk, professor of communication and fine arts, and the play’s director.

    April 10, 2014

  • Victorian Magic-Lantern Show set Saturday at Morgantown’s Metropolitan Theater

    Audience members will have what has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel back in time during the Victorian Magic-Lantern Show Saturday at the Metropolitan Theater in Morgantown.
    The Children’s Discovery Museum is hosting the event. Julie Bryan, the museum’s director, saw a similar production while living in Frederick, Md.

    April 3, 2014

  • Historic Dance -ts.jpg Mountaineer State History Expo Saturday at courthouse

    The Marion County Historical Society will hold its annual Mountaineer State History Expo Saturday.

    March 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • 032014.jpg Sagebrush Round-Up offers night of family music

    The Sagebrush Round-Up will open its doors for another Saturday night of music for the whole family this weekend.

    March 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Beetles Rain.jpg ‘Rain — A Tribute to Beatles’ set Monday

    Who hasn’t dreamed of seeing The Beatles in concert?

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Three acts featured in family-friendly show scheduled March 15-16

    Morgantown Dance and Morgantown Ballet Company will present “The Magical Carnival of Dance” at the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown next weekend.
    The family-friendly show will feature three acts: “The Carnival of Animals,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Premieres!”

    March 6, 2014

  • Leslie's change 022714.jpg ‘It’s fun and it’s cheap’

    The Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown will open its 2014 season with the comedy “Love, Sex and the IRS” Friday.

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Have a heart and help child advocacy

    The Marion County Child Advocacy Center is holding its inaugural Have a Heart Benefit Dance and Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Fairmont State University Ballroom.

    February 6, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Lifestyles
House Ads